Tips to reduce the risk of misdiagnosis malpractice

Donald Saiontz

By Donald Saiontz
Posted May 14, 2008


Many medical misdiagnosis lawsuits are directly attributed a competent doctor who simply failed to give their full time and attention to the patient they were treating. Disorganization, trying to treat too many patients too quickly or simply being lazy can cause a doctor to miss critical symptoms or signals of treatable problems.

While patients are not able to do much to completely avoid a misdiagnosis or medical mistake, there are steps that can be taken to help reduce the risk. Last month, CNN outlined several steps that patients can take to help their doctors help them.

  1. Provide the doctor with a list of all medications at the time of the visit.
  2. Although a doctor may have your medical file, records may not always be complete or easy to review quickly. Arriving at your doctor’s office with a complete list of every medication you are taking will help save time and ensure that no medications are overlooked.

  3. Maintain an updated family medical history.
  4. Many diseases and medical conditions are hereditary, or found to be more common in some families. With knowledge of your relatives’ medical history may help the doctor recognize symptoms or lead to additional tests that may help them reach a diagnosis.

  5. Bring recent test results and medical records with you.
  6. With many doctors referring patients to different specialists, it can be difficult for doctors to stay updated about all tests and examinations. Bring a copy of any medical records, including x rays and notes written by other physicians.

  7. Come prepared with a list of questions to ask your doctor.
  8. Anxiety and nervousness could cause patients to forget questions they planned to ask their doctor. Writing down a list of questions or concerns before you arrive can help the doctor recognize possible symptoms or side effects of a larger problems.

  9. Don’t direct questions about insurance or payments to the doctors.
  10. Many doctors are not the best person to answer questions about which procedures are covered by insurance plans or what copayments are. With the limited time doctors have set aside for each patient, it is better to ask questions which do not have an impact on the medical care to the appropriate staff member.


Doctors are trusted to provide the proper standard of medical care to every patient, every time. Although patients can help doctors do their job by being prepared to provide accurate and complete information, it is the doctors responsibility to make sure that symptoms are recognized and that appropriate follow up tests or referrals to specialists are ordered when they are necessary.

The medical malpractice attorneys at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. represent individuals who suffer severe and permanent injuries caused by a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose. To review the circumstances surrounding a potential claim, request a free consultation and case evaluation.

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